Welcome to the new Space To Learn STEM Conversations page 


We can create a unique learning space that will broadcast data for all of us to reference in our teaching.


An investigation into outdoor learning


What is this learning space?

What is included on this page:

1. Overview of the physical site including details of location

2. Summary of the learning benefits potential

3. Extended explanation of the planned and active sensors

4. Timeframe and intended route to delivery

💡How can this space be best equipped and configured to promote learning?

💡The desired outcome is for Primary and Secondary pupils to be shown real-world applications of physical technology

💡 Live data feeds directly into classrooms to provide STEM subjects with concrete examples of how technology can make a meaningful difference in an environmentally sensitive setting.

A 12 acre site in a designated AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) adjoining Mourne Park, a significant Woodland Trust estate

90 mins North of Dublin

60 mins South of Belfast

The Mountains of Mourne

Learning Benefits Potential:

1. Environmental protection / measurement of urban pollution through the provision of a data set from a currently pristine environment that can be compared and contrasted in real-time

2. Action Research Project: teachers can incorporate this long-term field study into their research

3. Data analysis skills

4. Design challenge for new sensor-based biodiversity studies

Sensors Online:

1. Enviro+ HAT with particulate sensor sending data & camera imagery from tree-based Raspberry Pi to this site via MongoDB

2. The same sensors mounted on a mobile platform (robot) to be brought into schools for local site analysis

3. Wildlife cameras throughout the woods some utilising the DrayTek outdoor WiFi, some saving to SD Card for fortnightly analysis (targeting, for example, red squirrels, pine martin, kingfishers)

4. Cameras optimised for AI scene detect experimentation

5. Indoor humidity and temperature sensors for archive monitoring

6. PIR movement detectors (internal and external)

7. Tuya SMART interface unit – eg. latch sensing.

Sensors Ahead:

  1. Starfield: to enable light pollution as a learning point, also the recording of transitioning shooting stars (will be via Raspberry Pi & wide field CMOS)
  2. PH for the river or for the stream
  3. Moisture (soil) – Micro:Bit powered ideally
  4. Wind speed 
  5. Water flow rate (measuring electrical current generated)
  6. River depth: it is a spate river due to the mountains – potential geography learning points – pressure sensor above a submerged tube perhaps, or stacked reed switches with a buoyant magnet?
  7. Radio frequency analysis: visual representation of the prevailing bandwidth usage
  8. Directional rotating microphone: visual representation of the sound scape

Timeframe / route to delivery:

I will maintain momentum on this project so that pupils may continue benefitting as the learning potential is explored.

The data streams are already shared with schools as they go live. 

The associated resources that I am working to create, provide tangible learning materials for teachers to retain and deploy when it suits them to do so. 

I have been invited to inspire learners in the South West of England by introducing them to physical computing, especially through the Micro:Bit and Raspberry Pi. To assist with this I provide multiple examples of real world applications for physical computing as typified in the Tech To Help initiative (see below)

When visiting schools as a STEM Advisor, I feature the Space To Learn project as a place where  one environment can inform another. In other words the differences between two data sets can underpin learning for a range of different subjects.

As a Director of Digital Writes, I  find ways in which creative writing can be nurtured and reading for pleasure encouraged, for example with the trees able to offer up vocabulary electronically.

Finally there is a parallel project called the Flickernet Archive that is based within the nineteenth century Schoolhouse. It seeks to digitise and share a body of archive material which relates to the local landscape. How the historical narrative is preserved and disseminated remains to be seen, but technology offers some great options!

My sincere thanks to everyone who is helping Space To Learn to take shape, especially:

Pete Marshman and the Digit<All> Community

Rob Leeman (ARM)

Mark Ebden (STEM Regional Network Lead)

Chris Catto (STEM SLP / NSTE Lead)

Andy Prior (Nationwide STEM Ambassador)

Keith Phillips (Digital Writes)